Sediments, structural framework, petroleum potential, environmental conditions, and operational considerations of the United States South Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf

Open-File Report 75-411




The area designated for possible oil and gas lease sale in Bureau of Land Management memorandum 3310 #43 (722) and referred to therein as part of the United States South Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) contains about 98,000 square kilometres of the continental margin seaward of the 3 mile offshore limit and within the 600 metre isobath. The designated area, offshore of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, encompasses parts of three physiographic provinces: the Continental Shelf, the Florida-Hatteras Slope, and the Blake Plateau. The structural framework of the U.3. South Atlantic region is dominated by the Southeast Georgia Embayment --an east-plunging depression recessed into the Atlantic Coastal Plain and shelf between Cape Fear, North Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida. The embayment is bounded to the north by the Cape Fear Arch and to southeast by the Peninsular Arch. Refraction data indicate a minor basement(?) ridge beneath the outer shelf between 30? and 32?N at 80?W. Drill hole data also suggest a gentle fold or accretionary structure (reef?) off the east coast of Florida. Several other structural features have been identified by refraction and reflection techniques and drilling. These are the Yamacraw Uplift, Burton High, Stone Arch, and the Suwannee Channel. Gravity and magnetic anomalies within the area probably result from emplacement of magma bodies along linear features representing fundamental crustal boundaries. Of these anomalies, the most prominent, is a segment of the East Coast Magnetic Anomaly which crosses the coast at Brunswick, Georgia. This anomaly has been interpreted as representing an ancient continental boundary where two formerly separate continental plates collided and were welded together. There may be as much as 5,000 m of sedimentary rocks in the Southeast Georgia Embayment out to the 600 m isobath. Basement rocks beneath the Southeast Georgia Embayment are expected to be similar to those exposed in the Appalachian Piedmont province. Triassic deposits are likely to exist beneath the inner Continental Shelf, and probably consist of nonmarine arkosic sandstones, shales, basalt flows, and diabase intrusions deposited in relatively narrow northeast-trending grabens. Jurassic marine carbonates in the Bahamas grade northward to carbonates, shales, sand, and arkose in North Carolina. Salt may be present in the basal Jurassic section in the Southeast Georgia Embayment. Up to 4,000 m of Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous rocks are expected out to the 600 m water depth. Lower Cretaceous rocks in southern Florida are shallow-water marine limestone and dolomites with beds of anhydrite. In coastal North Carolina the Lower Cretaceous is a marine section made up of shales, sand, and sandy limestone. The Upper Cretaceous is composed almost entirely of marine carbonates in southern Florida grading northward to nonmarine to marginal marine, sandstones and shales with minor amounts of carbonates. In general, Upper Cretaceous rocks will probably maintain a fairly constant thickness (600 m) on the Continental Shelf and grade downdip from terrigeneous sands and shales to more marine chalks, limestones, and dolomites. The Cenozoic rocks are predominantly shallow-water marine carbonates in Florida grading northward into a marginal marine to marine clastic facies composed of sands, marls, and limestones. The offshore Cenozoic section is expected to range in thickness from 600 to 1100 m. A reconstruction of the geologic history suggests that the present continental margin is a result of a collision of the North American and African continental plates during late Paleozoic time and later modification during Late Triassic time when the continental plates separated, forming the present Atlantic Ocean. No commercial production of hydrocarbons has been developed on the Atlantic Coastal Plain immediately adjacent to the studied area even though hydrocarbon shows have been encountered in ons

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Sediments, structural framework, petroleum potential, environmental conditions, and operational considerations of the United States South Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey,
vii, 262 p. :ill., maps (1 fold. in pocket) ;28 cm.